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Pixar’s Purl Is a Charming and Insightful Yarn About Women in the Workplace

Female animators take on the male-dominated field in this witty metaphor.

Any woman will tell you that working in a male-dominated field is a challenge. The Boys Club is very real, and women are frequently left out of conversations, networking opportunities, and other important events that help men further their careers. In a system that demands conformity, often the best way to get ahead is to join the Boys Club and make yourself one of the guys. That’s the conundrum that faces Purl, the star of the first short film from Pixar’s SparkShorts program.

Purl follows the adventures of a plucky pink ball of yarn on her first day of work at B.R.O. Capital. Purl is thrilled at the new opportunity, but finds herself lost amidst the sea of nearly identical black-suited male co-workers. No one appreciates her friendly attitude, her fiber desk accessories, or her crochet jokes at the water cooler. They also ignore her work ideas for cooperation, favoring an aggressive approach instead.

Realizing that she doesn’t fit in, Purl knits herself her own black suit and soon becomes one of the guys. Gone are her cozy decorations and her sweetness. Purl is embraced by the guys and joins them in dirty jokes, aggro work advice, and heavy drinking. As Purl achieves success, she encounters a new hire, Lacey, who is also a sweet and bouncy ball of yarn. Will Purl shun her like the rest of the men or will she reach out a string to help her fellow ball?

The short, written and directed by Kristen Lester, mirrors Lester’s experience working in the male-dominated field of animation. In a behind the scenes interview, Lester describes how her working career led her to become one of the guys, and how she rediscovered herself by working with a female team at Pixar.

“My first job, I was like the only woman in the room, and so in order to do the thing that I loved, I sort of became one of the guys. And then I came to Pixar, and I started to work on teams with women for the first time, and that actually made me realize how much of the female aspect of myself I had sort of buried and left behind.”

Pixar itself hasn’t been immune from the #MeToo Movement, with its founder John Lasseter leaving the company amidst sexual misconduct allegations. Lasseter has since landed a plum gig at Skydance Media.

Purl is the first short out of Pixar’s SparkShorts program, which is designed to elevate new stories from the studio’s animation team and experiment with new techniques. Upcoming shorts include robot love story Smash and Grab and an unlikely friendship between a kitten and a pitbull in Kitbull.

(via Polygon, image: screencap)

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Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. She currently lives in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, son, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.